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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Updating!

Hi everyone!   I've been messing on the computer while I'm on school break and saw this widget (to the left) and knew we had to have it - hope you enjoy! You can click the weeks and days on the widget and it swaps to how much time is left and how much time has past. 
   As much as I tried to convince mom that we needed a pink baby countdown, she said no.  But she is almost all the way convinced that it is a girl.
  Does anyone have any good baby names? We are right now leaning towards Sophia Mariel, but not 100%.  - and haven't sold Dad on it yet either.  Comment the names or e-mail them to us! (maybe we'll have a poll to decide? :) )
   Hope you have a great New Year!
Born in the wrong century,
Jane Austen Wannabe

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Popcorn Night!

I love traditions, not just the Christmas ones, but the year around ones too! 

One of the traditions that I started with my family was what we dub "popcorn night."  It hits on Wednesday nights and consists of popcorn, of course, and playing a board game.  Over the years we have grown from Candy Land and Hi-Ho Cherry O to some really fun games that we've just recently purchased:  Quelf, Wits and Wagers, and Logo to name a few-all of which I completely recommend.

This tradition has been brought to mind lately because Christmas family gatherings, for us,  always mean board games.  This season we've just attended a few family gatherings, games in tow. and we have at least one more to gatherings to go.  While my husband is usually found off talking to adults, I weasel my way into the teen or children's tables with one or two games, and we generally start having so much fun that the adults in the area are soon joining in also.     

I think why our popcorn night tradition is so meaningful to me is because when growing up, I was always the one (out of the 6 family members) who wanted to play a board game.  Yet, in thinking back to all the times that we did manage to pull together as a family around a game, I only have memories of one or more of my sisters and  maybe- only maybe- myself, bringing the game to an abrupt end- because someone wasn't following the rules, someone wasn't fair, or someone was breathing on someone else!  (Close family time can be SO stressful!)   I do have to say though that growing up I can only recall two games that we tried- Monopoly and Clue.  Both of these games are a push to include parents down to ages four or so- at least without some kind of fight taking place.  All that considered, I am a sucker for board games and now have a closet full to choose from each Wednesday night. 

It's not all bliss.  There are still arguments.  There are many times when at least half of us are just not into playing a game.  There are times when the game gets canceled altogether and a movie takes its place.  Yes, there are complaints about someone breathing on someone else!  (I know, I'm too touchy!) But, we are all together with a common goal. . . so, I love it!  Now that my husband (as of this past week) has taken a job on first shift, he too will be included in on the tradition- despite the fact that he is not a big game player.
Too bad! 

I never knew that this traditions meant much to my kids as it did to me until once when The Bookworm  was staying a couple of nights at Grandma's and was very insistent that she return home by Wednesday so as to not miss popcorn night.  (Warms my heart!  Guess all the arguments that accompany tradition are worth it.) 

Now that my kids are growing up, taking on jobs, committing to outside activities, it gets harder to hold popcorn night.  But we do our best, even it it means having "Popcorn Tuesday."  I hope that as they continue to grow and move on that they will know that the door is always open on Wednesday night and the popcorn is popped and waiting!  And who knows?  Maybe someday I'll drop in on one of my childrens' houses and find the same tradition occurring, complete with "Mom, make him stop breathing on me!!"

Surviving myself on each and every popcorn night,
Mary

Friday, December 9, 2011

(Don't) Let it Snow!

 It's cold outside.  The sky is typically gray.  It's winter time.  Humbug!

I wish I were the type of person who anxiously awaits the cold season.  Take that back, I'm glad that I wouldn't want to live in Alaska, or any place North for that matter.  I enjoy a fire, but I like the ones that actually put out heat, not the ones you have to crawl inches away from to feel any temperature change.  I do love a white, serene, spotless snow cover, but I hate the mud trampled dirty snow that sits in my back and front yard, leaving bare mud spots to slowly, but surely take over my entire yard all year around.  (We are definitely the scourge of the neighborhood when it comes to lawns!  If it's not that I'm sharing my cottonwood leaves with the neighboring 3 or 4 houses on each side, it's that I do grow a fine mud patch- while other yards are beautiful green.  Of course I understand that this is because I have 7 kids trampling around- no make that more, the neighbor kids are playing at my yard too. Hmmmm, their yard looks beautifully lush and green. . . ) 
Boy am I a humbug!  But, I really wouldn't trade any of my swamp like, snow trampled yard if it meant no kids.  Although I kind of doubt that my neighbors are sitting in their houses saying "Wow, it should would be nice to have kids livening up our yard and leave it looking like the tar pits of old!"  It's a unique look that is all ours- thus making it easy to find our house.  Bonus for holiday visitors!
Back to snow though.  I feel very vulnerable while driving in the snow.  Yes, I've had a number of accidents in the past that play a huge part into this, not to mention a lot of close calls.  But this year I have the Jane Austen Want to Be out on the roads at least 4 times a week by herself.  This is more than unnerving.  My mother hen instincts kick into red alert. 

Yet, as I sit by my window and humbug, I do have to say that I'm not looking at anything white- no snow, no mush, not even any ice,  To which I say THANK YOU LORD!  You see, The Jane Austen Want to Be's college class ended yesterday- which means she made it though the first semester of the half hour each way drive by herself without having to deal with snowy roads!  That was something we had prayed about, and ironically enough, there was a forecast for snow yesterday to come a 3:00- the same time her last class ended.  (It didn't come- but I'm okay with that.)  Never mind that her next class starts up on January 4th and that date is still in the winter season : P  (I'll deal with that worry later.  Just enjoying the blessed feeling for now!)

Other snow- yes, snow comes in forms other than wet precipitation. 

I was standing in the shower today, enjoying the hot water, when a pelt of "light snow" hit the door.  It always starts as a little rap of tiny 2 year old knuckles on the lower part of the door.  However, within minutes, I'm being bombarded with the "snowballs" of teen pounding.  Oh, it wouldn't be so bad if each knock was followed by "Mom, just wanted to tell you I love you!"  or "Mom, while you are showering, we've decided to clean the whole house!"  But no, sadly, these snowballs are always accompanied with "Mom, so and so is doing this.. . ."  or "Mom, make so and so stop. . . "   To which I always reply some non-audible nonsense that I later blame on the inability to understand them over the shower water.

Please DON'T let it snow!

It's funny, I attended Mass yesterday and the priest had everyone clap for the 2nd graders who just make their first reconciliation.  I heartily applauded that, but still snicker at various priests' comments that hearing 2nd graders' first confession like being pelted with popcorn.  I love this analogy!  I am going to make it a fond wish that all my confessions were just a sprinkling of popcorn (or a light rap of snowballs) and never to excel to a mound of snow drifts! 

My father made the comment last night that the days between Thanksgiving and Christmas rush by in such a hurry.  I responded that this was because he was old.  What I mean was that he is not awakened daily by The Boy and his 4 year old innocence that makes him ask "Is tomorrow Christmas Eve?!?"   I could give him an exact number count of how many days he has, but it wouldn't really matter- he lives in the here and now and tomorrow might as well be 10 years from now.  I did set up a Jessie Tree to show the countdown of the days to Christmas; I even have the advent wreath in a prominent place with only 2 candles on it as it's supposed to be.  But each morning I have to again face the snowballs of "Is it Christmas Eve yet?!" 

Forget it, I'd rather waken to that then to The Baby's greeting of "Mom, change my diaper!!" 

--That's more like waking up to a blizzard!!

As you are counting down the days to Christmas, I hope you are finding joy in the snow storms you are facing.  I pray that the Lord blesses you with the right tolerance to face all the precipitations of life.  And, if you happen to catch the Lord's ear, please whisper to Him to NOT send any snow my way!

Dodging snowballs while surviving myself,
Mary

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

It is now 11:55 on Thanksgiving Day and I am not standing in front of the oven.  I am at the table, but the only thing on the table is carrots, celery, and ranch dressing- and I'm not THAT hungry!  I just might have to crash the kids table-which is ladden with Cheetos!  Personally, I think that we should replace the chubby cut carrots with the Cheetos and see how long it takes the kids to notice : P

So, I am thinking about all am I thankful for.  There is so much to my list.  Of course I am thankful for my faith, family, friends and health.  As I sat in Mass today, I didn't have to think hard about those top 4.  I do have extra things on my list this year though and I'll be happy to share. . .

I am thankful for my sister Susan and brother-in-law Dan who hosted Thanksgiving at their house this year.  Although I could probably do without the 4 hour trip here- I like to look on the bright side of such a long trip- which is I know where all my kids are for the next 4 hours, my husband is a great driver so I am going to sleep.  Yes, for the whole trip. 

Speaking of sleep- I am thankful for naps.  Long ones over short, but naps in general are great.  Being pregnant gives me a great excuse to take them often, and believe me, I try to get in as many as possible.  Today I will find the nap extra nice because the small boys in the house (2 nephews and my own 2) decided that 3 AM was the time to be up and running in the house.  Honest.  As I look at the 2 other people who, like myself, couldn't find sleep easily after that, and see them yawing now, I am dumbfounded that the boys are still running non-stop.  What I wouldn't give to be able to capture and market their energy!  I wouldn't have to work- which would leave more time for naps!!

I am thankful for being pregnant on the Thanksgivng.  There is never such an excuse to eat as there is when you are pregnant!  Of course, I'm constantly reminded by those pesky birth and baby e-mails that my daughters signed up for, that I'm techanically not eating for two- but I say use pregnancy to the full advantage.  Don't ask me about this in 6 months though- don't even bring it up!!

Oh, back to my sweet sister and brother-in-law.  These 2 wonderful people gave up their master bedroom to let the pregnant woman have comfort for two days.  That's love!  Especially since my sister JUST got off the plane (yesterday morning at 5AM) from a Europen 10 day trip-thus not having the comfort of her own bed herself even.  Wow, even I wouldn't give that much- pretty sure about that. 

I've heard of a couple of families that decided to make this Thanksgiving a electronic free holiday.  No phones, wii, computers, etc.  (this as I'm sitting here typiung my post. . . : - O)  And I say- good for them!  Which will lead me to my last thankful for for this day.  I am thankful for my brother-in-law losing his wedding ring.  I know, that is terrible.  It didn't go over well with my sister either!  Did I mention that this is the 3rd time he lost his wedding ring in 15 years?  So-why my joy?  Because for at least 1 straight hour- maybe an extra 1/2 hour than that, most of the 12 kids were busy looking for the wedding ring.  Inside and out of the house- busy kids, not plugged in to anything : P  (Thus I had a chance to steal the laptop!)

Bad news, the search was lost- and so is the ring still!  Who knows, maybe there is still time to find it. St.Anthony???    Maybe he's taking Thanksgivng Day off?


Well, turkey's on- hope you and all yours are enjoying the day and finding extra to be thankful for!

Stuffing and surviving myself,
Mary

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Is it Monday?

Have you ever had one of those weeks?   I have double checked to see if the calendar read Monday ever since, well Monday.  I did, however, find some precious jewels amongst the grayness. 

On Monday, The Boy was sick- which both he and I deemed "totally unfair" since he was sick to his stomach last Tuesday.  I must have sympathized with him too much though; I joined in on his sickness full force.  So, this Monday he was once again feeling miserable- only a head cold this time, but still such a dry cough that he was either sobbing or coughing.  (Jewel #1) "Why, why did God make this happen to me?" he'd cry.  I tried to explain to him that while God allowed his sickness, it was due to Adam and Eve's sin that we get sick.   "I hate Adam and Eve!"  cough, cry, cough, cough.

I don't know what touched my heart more- the comment or the little turned down lip that accompanied his sobs! 

Despite the sickness, The Boy is the trooper.  He wanted to work on his school.  Since one of his best subjects is memory, we worked on our currant undertaking: memorizing the 50 states and their capitals.  Now before you think we are cranking out super genius kids, meeting and exceeding the standard homeschooling, I'll let you know we picked to memorize these because 1. it was set to music and the kids tend to memorize much better if they can sing it. and 2. it was easier than memorizing the list of Popes- although The Jane Austen Want to Be suggested we just spout out "Pope 1, Pope 2, Pope 3, etc."  Funny. 

Anyway, (Jewel #2) The Boy has done so well on the states, except he is absolutely sure that Michigan's capital is Landscape, not Lasing.  It's so cute, I hate to correct him each time.  Oh, I do, but not until after a giggle. 

Today, surely a Monday, was the day that The Clown picked to work (or shall I say continue to work) on their messy, MESSY bedroom.  Really, I'm not a mommy dearest that runs white glove tests daily to see if the kids' room are clean- trust me, they wouldn't pass anyway!  They really get it from me honestly; I have never lived down a Christmas orange that some how lost itself and reappeared many, many months later- hard as a rock and a little more green than orange.  So, I don't put a lot of pressure on immaculate rooms.  Yet, about every 3 weeks the older 3 girls decided it's time to straighten up.  This means a dumping of the closets.  I always try to avoid cleaning days by staying clear of the area- completely away!  The Clown worked this morning, despite the fact that she too had the cold and felt miserable, rehanging clothes and straightening up.  Unfortunately, The Jane Austen Want to Be and The Bookworm took it upon themselves to go back through what The Clown's progress and confiscate clothes that she had outgrown.  The problem with this is that (Jewel #3) The Clown was positive that the clothes they grabbed still fit her fine- never mind that they were size 7 and 10 - and that she is wearing a size 14.  I love that she still sees herself as my little girl. 

What is even sadder was that, due to her feeling sick, her feelings were worn on her sleeve and this whole event sent her into tears.  (Jewel #4) Grabbing the 4 or 5  pieces of clothes, she hugged them and ran off crying, where she found solace on the couch, clutching them like a precious treasure.  I can so appreciate that scene- there are times when I try something on from my closet that used to fit fine!  I often shed some tears and feel like climbing in a fetal position too!  - I hate Adam and Eve!!

Finally, this brings me to this week being the week of losing things.  Including my mind!  From Monday on, the house has been in an uproar over lost items.  Fortunately everything has been found, well, not my mind, but not without much shedding of tears, rants, raves and slammed doors.  This is what brings me to the next jewel- Jewel #8.      

No, I didn't miscount- in fact, my numbers are right on- we are expecting another baby- for now we'll call "Jewel #8"- in April. 


After all my medical mishaps, which conveniently covered my doctor visits excuses to the children, my husband and I decided to share the good news with the family.  Believe me, if I could have gotten away with hiding the news until Christmas I would have!  It would have made for easy Christmas shopping-  something that was on each of the kids' wish list.  Unfortunately, the baby bump was growing beyond my jeans size.  

The only sadness in that news and relating to this week is that I did officially climb into the maternity clothes.  I know- it's not sad- it's good, it's normal, it's just hard getting big!  Oh, that and finding that most of my maternity clothes were a little dated- very 90's.  Too bad that trend hasn't come back.  Can I blame that one on Adam and Eve too?  Maybe it's just a Monday!

Growing and surviving myself,
Mary

Monday, October 24, 2011

Injury Alert

So in my older post, "So Wonderful,"  I talked about my trip to the E.R.  and how being a medical wonder was not fun.  This past week I had a follow up with the doctor and while she still couldn't confirm if I had a kidney stone or not, she was feeling confident that IF did, I surely hadn't passed it yet.  Again, I'm not sure of how this diagnosis came about, but the look on my face read anything but "Thanks doc!"  I'll have to keep you posted on my joyful trip. 

This week though, I'm looking at The Boy, now 4, almost 5 years old, and wondering how it is that we have had so few trips to the E.R. up until now.  He did take his father and me to the immediate care 2 weeks ago tomorrow- with a broken arm.  I've never had broken bone before, nor has my husband.  I haven't had a child with a broken bone before either.  There was no mistaking this though!  Seeing his arm hanging at such an odd position with a strange bump protruding from the elbow made me have to work to keep my lunch down. 

Long story short, he fell off his bike, broke the arm in 2 places below the elbow and since the immediate care insisted on a specialist (that wasn't in any big hurry to get us in), his bones had already started to heal- thank you Lord! in the proper place.  Therefore only a temporary cast was needed.  Tomorrow! Tomorrow he goes back to the specialist to HOPEFULLY get the cast off.  I really don't think he could have survived a full 6 weeks in a regular cast.  The hardest part has been that he hasn't been able to ride his bike.  "Two feet on the ground," straight out of the doctor's mouth.  Oh how I've enjoyed repeating that phrase over and over. 

I really believe that God built boys differently.  I mean, I know they are different, and there are always exceptions in a few girls, but generally speaking, I think the testosterone blocks the brain cells from properly functioning about 99% of the time.  One only has to look at "America's Funniest Videos" to see that nearly all the clips of dangerous, stupid stunts are performed my guys.  More specifically boys- or men who haven't moved out of the boy stage.  While my kids enjoying watching this show, I feel like I have to be in a 4 foot radius from their ears to follow up each of these types of clips with "Don't you even think about doing that!"  Of course my warnings are usually drowned out by "Cool!" or "Hey, I bet we could do that!" or just all out laughter- this all coming from their Dad! 

I know, as parents, we haven't aided the whole don't do dumb stuff warning when we have toys like skateboards, scooters and a trampoline.  What can I say, I like spending my time issuing warnings. 

The bad thing about experiencing a brake in a bone is that I'm "on edge" now.  When I hear one of the kids crying "that cry," I'm there before the tear leaves the eye, panicked and on alert.  Today The Cute one who gets Everything Free at Garage Sales came inside the house crying uncontrollably that her head started hurting after playing leap frog on the trampoline.  Certain that she'd not been hit, didn't bend her neck wrong or anything of the like, my worry mode was set to alarm. 

You know, if you can actually see the injury, it really helps to make the "run to the doctor decision."  Unfortunately this isn't always the case.  It is in those times that one relies on their tried and true "Momisms."  You know what I mean.  My favorite one is: "Rub it."  Like that is going to make it better!  Well, my kids seem to think it does : P 

My husband tells of a football coach that would reply to most pains:  "Rub some dirt on it."  Hmmmm.  An expansion on mine. 

My daughter tells me her friends' dad's is:  "Suck it up!"  Okay,  might work- if I knew what to suck up.  

Another one- oh how these come to mind when you start thinking about it-  my husband has a "cure" that he uses when his panic mode hits:  he hands the child a quarter and tells them to squeeze it. 
Really?  I can't believe they would fall for this.  Okay, maybe keeping their mind on squeezing would be helpful, especially when dad is there pushing them to "keep squeezing" if their grip relaxes.  I would think that my kids would be smart enough to tell their dad that a dollar would be easier to squeeze though and would ease the pain a bit more! 

Back to The Cute one who gets Everything Free at Garage Sales.  After a bit of aspirin and a cold washrag (another Momism), she decided she felt better.  Of course this was after most of the nightly cleaning of the house was done.  

I do believe my kids have taken my heighted alerts to their advantage!

In the meantime, I hear there is a cold front coming in that is bringing rain.  Oh, too bad you can't ride bikes in that.  Well, actually you could, but Mom is on alert -remember. 

I'm having Dad take The Boy to the doctor appointment tomorrow.  It's not that I don't want to go; it's just that I think that dad, gracing me with the 2 boys at the end of the sting of kids, has to pay his dues in bringing the testosterone level a bit higher around the house.  That and I don't think that the doctor would appreciate me telling The Boy to not worry and just rub it!  I'd rather see them off from the house, be ready to greet him with "I'm so proud of you!" when he returns.  I do think I'll stick a few extra quarters in dad's pocket before he goes though! 

Surviving Myself (outside of the E.R.),
Mary

Oh- one last thing.  On a techinacal note, I am still working on the whole leave a comment thing.  I wasnt to assure you that if you try to leave a comment, you can do so by clicking "leave a comment" and then choose to send it under "anonymous" and the comment will get to me- just not saved to the post.  So feel free to comment away!

UPDATE: The Boy got back from the doctor today and with head hung low, announced he'll have 3 more weeks of the cast.  Poor boy, still no bike : (

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Dangerous Discontent

I have recently been reading a book by Immaculee Ilibagiza, a survivor of the Rwanda holocaust of 1994.  Her book is entitled Left to Tell, and I highly recommend it to older teens and up- http://www.lefttotell.com/ .  It is very graphic in description of the horrors that took place in her country.  She, along with seven other girls/women survived by hiding in a 3' by 4' bathroom that belonged to a local pastor.  They stayed in this bathroom for 91 days, often times only sharing 1 plate of food amongst them.  More than once they would hear groups of killers, standing just inches away from their hiding place, chanting gruesome killing songs and calling out their names as they searched houses and streets hoping to add them to their killing list.  It was a shocking discovery that Immaculee found when listening to these killers and once getting a peek at them that these were not hardened, trained killers or soldiers that cried out for her blood and the blood of her people; these were her neighbors and friends that she grew up with, played with, that her own family had even helped out before with money or shelter.  She struggled with disbelief as much as she struggled for comfort and yet, it was in that tiny bathroom that she found peace.  Encircled by contempt, she found contentment.  Surrounded by discontent, she found love.   

Now, if you are like me, and pretty much any other human being, you have to be asking- How?  How could she find harmony in the midst of war.  One way she did this was by the grace of God.  Imaculee is a practicing Catholic who always found a joy in prayer.  She treasured her faith and the traditions that her family had grown up with.  There in a cramped bathroom, she retreated to the depth of her heart and conversed with the creator of the earth and found hope in the chaos.

This almost sounds "easy," doesn't it?  I can only imagine that it wasn't.  I would never want to experience the disarray she encountered.  Reading her story is so heavy, so sorrowful and yet incredibly insightful.  I am carrying her story in my heart, in my soul.  It has me thinking about events and people in different ways. 

I am dumbfounded, as was she, by the actions of friends and neighbors.  Just as it was in Germany.  There too Jewish people found hate expressed to them by neighbors and loved ones.  Afterward, we stood shocked at what human beings can do to one another.  We probably even confess with our lips that we could never do something like that ourselves. 

And yet, I propose to you, are we really so different?  Imaculee herself experienced the hate that drives a human to the desire revenge.  She struggled with it until she found the forgiveness of Christ. 

But not all of us are hidden away in a 3' by 4' bathroom with killers calling for our blood.  We face discontent on a far different level and probably daily.  For some, it may be very mild- a dissatisfaction of others' actions or even their possessions.  For others, it may be a bigger, growing discontent of dealing with moral situations at work or struggling with political actions of the government. 

When Adam and Eve left the garden, they experienced discontent.  But if we had been there, would we not also have "messed up" along the way- bringing sin and sorrow to every generation?  Sure, it is easy to say "No!" with 20/20 hindsight, but being "in the moment" brings each of us to the reality that sometimes our choices bring us and others discontent. 

Lately, I have experienced a level of discontent that is disturbing me.  No, I am not out for revenge- more so, I am longing change.  This discontent is on a personal scale.  It is not aimed at the government, my neighbors, my friends or my family.  I am feeling uneasiness in my lifestyle.  What I find so disturbing though is how much my restlessness has an effect on my family.  

In my heart I feel the Lord calling me to shun some of the influence of media upon my family's time.  It is so easy for me to "veg" out in front of the t.v. at the end of the day- I crave the mindless entertainment!  It was actually something I grew up with- with a t.v. in nearly every room, I could tell the time of the day by what was on the tube.  I have strongest memories of t.v. characters from my youth than I do of  daily activities.  It is a addiction I struggled with and still do.  When I had my first child, I made a decision to fight against this desire.  The t.v. went off and I forced myself to live in the moment.  I have worked to keep this habit suppressed for the last 16 years.  Usually I feel pretty good about it.  I allow my children around 1/2 hour a day, 3 times a week of viewing what we call "Jesus movies."  On the weekend, we would watch a bit more- indulging in a full length video each day.  However, as my older kids hit the teen years, we've found the  convenience of replay episodes online,  which led to a creeping back of the old habit of more viewing. 



Our first week passed.  I won't call it a roaring success.  I won't even call it overwhelmingly enjoyable.  It is hard work to work against the influence of media!  I know though that anything worth having is usually accompanied by hard work.  Sadly, many nights, we called it to an end went to bed early.  It was like we couldn't find enjoyment amongst ourselves unless we had the t.v. as a distraction. 

Discontent.  There it is again.  Discontent without the media, discontent with media.  Don't get me wrong- I am not comparing my discontent on the level of Imacculee's or the Jewish holocaust.  But discontent has to start somewhere.  It has to be given birth, feed, and nurtured. 

In distress, I watched myself and my spouse as we hit a weekend- the 2 nights that my husband doesn't work.  He has a second shift job and doesn't get home until after midnight.  These 2 nights are supposed to be a time when we can work and build our relationship.  Where did I find us on Sat. and Sun. night?  In front of the t.v.

Discontent.  Tearing at my heart.  Letting Satan in.  Finding unhappiness in my life.  I just want to give into the easy answer.  Turn to the media, embrace it.  It wasn't like we were unhappy being tube heads.  We laughed with each other, shared jokes about, and had discussions about our viewing.  Unfortunately it doesn't really build relationships; it doesn't strengthen us. 

Discontent.  Without the t.v., I have found I have a "boring" life.  Don't pity me with the use of that word.  I don't mean that I want to leave my life, give up my family and run off with the circus.  I mean I have lost myself and my ability to function with those I love and I crave change in such a fashion that I am actually restless.

When we have discontent in our hearts, is it not a quick jump from uncomfortable feelings to hate? 

I will leave you on that question.  Ponder it.  Pray about it.  Respond to it.  And if you feel led, comment on my blog about it.  We often find answers in the places we least expect- so please share your thoughts on this subject.  You could help others- you could help me. 

Discontently Surviving Myself,
Mary

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

So Wonderful!!

Who doesn't love wonders?  You know a cause of astonishment, amazement- like the Wonders of the World, or Wonder Woman or someone saying "You're so wonderful!"  What's not to like about wonders?  I even get a tinge of excitement when I hear my kids say "Hey, I wonder. . . "  I bend my ear to their thoughts, because it's a sign to me that their wheels are turning and thoughts are cranking out.  Love when they become independent, terrific thinkers- especially when they are trying to solve a problem that I cannot piece together myself!  (One of the reasons I have so many kids. . . more minds to keep me on track!) 

I also love being able to write "Wonderful!" across the top of my childrens' graded papers- as I'm sure they are happy to see it - much better than the "Fix!" or "Do again!"
It's no wonder that a top selling bread is Wonder Bread.  With a name like that, what kid couldn't resist it?  Of course the wonderful yellow, blue and red circles calling out to the yearning stomachs, promising a mouthful of soft, white tasty goodness.  Ahhhh.   Okay, maybe I'm a bit obsessed- my Mother rarely bought Wonder Bread- we ate wheat bread (A healthy choice I've carried on, so my own children salivate when as a rare treat I place a loaf in my shopping cart.)

Oh, how about music- that oldie, but goodie, "S' Wonderful. . S' Marvelous. . .that you should care for me. . ."
Or even older~"I Wonder why I Love You Like I do"
My ALL time favorite wonder song though is "What a Wonderful World" - Louis Armstrong.  This song brings back memories of  high school dances- which in and of themselves were not so wonderful, but it was always the last song played at each dance and just left you ready to leave with a light heart as the lights came on and everyone chimed in to sing the lyrics.  Good song!

Movies- no brainier- "Wonderful Life"  This movie is such a classic- brought out each Christmas season at our home.  Plus, there are so many take offs of this movie- many very, very good, including Shrek Forever (my favorite Shrek).

With all these wonders, are you wondering where I'm going? 

It's to the antipodean of everything wonderful about wonder. 

Two weekends back I became a wonder in the most loathsome way.  I was considered a "medical wonder."  Much to the demise of what was supposed to be a family day at a church festival, I spent the day in the E.R. with an extreme pain in my abdomen and a handful of hospital workers scratching their heads and saying "I wonder. . . "

This is not what wonder is supposed to be!  Wonder is supposed to be laughter, proud feelings, yummy bread and feel-good music! 

Here is what I do wonder about- how come it is so easy to cross that point of embarrassment to the point of lose all caution to the wind when it comes to pain?  It must be something about the hospital gown with the slit down the back.  It's never going to mean something wonderful is going to happen!  Okay, I did don the gown 7 times to give birth- and that is wonderful!- but the modesty grows it's own wings and flies out the window when the gown goes on.  And there is no wonder is all the needle pricking, poking, prodding and marvelous contraptions that get hooked up to your body when you suit up in the hospital finery. 

And so, after many tests and head scratching, the E.R. doctor, as he is about to release me, says
"I wonder. . . maybe you had a kidney stone." 

O great, this probably means more tests- No thanks!  He must of read my mind.  After all, I wasn't in any pain anymore.  In fact, my pain had actually subsided before I was even called out of the E.R. waiting room! Wonderful, huh?!?  Maybe it was the pleading look in my eyes that convinced him to release me.  Although he wasn't going to confirm anything, he did feel that my tests lead to conclude it was kidney stones.  "But be sure to follow up with your primary doctor." 

I was not surprised at all when my primary doctor said- "I wonder. . ."  Unfortunately, it was not the same wonder as the E.R. doctor- she just wondered what could have happened, because she wasn't convinced that it was kidney stones.    

WONDERFUL!

(Sigh!) As I run back to doctor check-ups, enjoy the time "on rest", and continue to wonder, I'm so glad that I am a wonder to our Lord.  It's easier to face bad wonders knowing that the All-Wonderful has me right where I am supposed to be!

Attempting to survive myself,
Mary

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

We've searched High and Low!

If there is one thing my family is good at it is looking for things.  Notice, I didn't say FINDING things; that is not our forte!  We take an opportunity nearly every three weeks to go on a great search- three weeks is amount of days we have before the library books are due.  For most people keeping track of library books probably isn't a big deal.  What do most normal people check out per library visit?  Five, maybe ten books?  We are not normal.  I have gotten better, but at any given time, we'll check out anywhere from 30 to 50 books, sometimes more.  We have an addiction to library books; not that this is a bad thing.  I like to spend at least an hour a day reading "picture books" to the younger kids.  Just a habit I'd started with the Jane Austen Wanna Be when she was little and continue to enjoy that time together even now. 

Turning 5 in our family is a big deal- this is the age when a child gets to get his/her own library card.  Of course this also means he/she accepts a bigger chunk of the blame when a book is lost, and that is not so good!  To say a frequent calling upon St. Anthony is heard from our home is an understatement.  I expect when we reach the pearly gates, each of of us will receive a tongue lashing from the multitude of times St. Anthony had to take a break from praising the Almighty to guide us to where the lost library book rests. 

The Clown has earned the nickname of "St. Anthony"- because she is really good at finding lost things.  I'm always calling upon her when something has gone astray.  She has a good turn around time!  This is also why I ask her to find things that I have lost in my mind.  So many times I will leave a room, only to stop and holler her name to remind me why I had left the room to began with.  She is also good with unwritten shopping lists, telephone numbers and keeping track of sibblings' forgotten punishments. . . hmmmm shouldn't be surprised about that last one.

What is this all leading to?  I had a point, but I lost it : )   No, the point is I have been searching for a family hobby that would occupy a minimal amount of time and include all of us- from the 2 year old to the 45 year old (see prior post: "Happy Birthday to Me!").  I had all but given up- especially since we are not really sports oriented, not  so musically talented that we could play anything remotely recognizable to any human, and don't possess the patience of Job, nor the wealth of Midas.  Yet, about about 2 weeks ago, I stumbled upon an idea (probably under the guidance of St. Anthony) that looked like it was a hobby made just for us.

This activity is called Geocaching.  It is also known as Letter Boxing.  See the  following link: http://www.geocaching.com/seek/nearest.aspx?lat=39.01103&lng=-95.777829&dist=5
This is a hobby where you use your GPS Navigation Device (yes, of course we have one- my husband's solution to keeping us from getting lost around town) to input a set of coordinates.  Then, piling into the car, you follow the GPS to the set point and find the cache that is hidden.  Wow!  A hobby involving looking for something that is hidden?!?  It should be called "Mooradian-ing."

What makes the search fun is that the end result could be a bit of a treasure- a medium/large size cache holds little goodies that you can trade out, or disguises that you don and photograph to upload as proof of your successful find.  There are also little/microscopic size caches that usually just hold a log that you sign and date. 

Our first few attempts were nothing shy of a complete failure (St. Anthony?!?).  But, on the 3rd attempt, we found the needle in the haystack and you'd thought we'd found the cure for cancer!  Considering we weren't using our GPS correctly, it was on the level of brain surgery.  It felt so much more of an accomplishment too because we weathered 102 degree heat,  around a 3/10 mile walk and overgrown grass that harbored overgrown grasshoppers (at least according to The Jane Austen Wanna Be). 

A round of root beer floats proved to be the best way to celebrate (which coincidentaly, we also included the celebrating of finding a lost library book).  Lots of bragging ensued, along with posting our pictures on the website.  It appears that an answer to our hobby search has been found!  I'm actually quite surprised that The boy and The Cute One Who Always get Free Stuff at Garage Sales were the two children that started begging to go Geocaching again- especially since they were the first two to give up searching when we were out in the field.  Perhaps is just that they ejnoyed the time together we had as a family, with a common goal at hand.  Maybe it was they were relieved to break of the regular routine to get out of the house.  Possibly they just liked seeing The Jane Austen Wanna Be get flustered and mad at the GPS in what we call the Geocaching Rage.  I'm not sure, but I know that we are building memories and having fun.

Thank you Lord that you don't need to work so hard to keep track of us, your children.  I can rest knowing that no matter where my children or I am, you are keeping close track of us. 

Now, if I could just get a fixed coordinates on each of our checked out library books. . .

Finding and Surviving Myself,
Mary

Monday, August 29, 2011

Bug Bites, Bruises and Curtain Closings

September is upon us- another summer just about gone.  Boy, I remember when I was little, summer was such a gift-3 long months to indulge in sleeping in, staying up late and endless trips to the pool and library.  I do think my kids enjoy the summer time they have, but I realized that our summer is quite like the rest of the year.  Since we do summer school- a lighter version of regular school- there is little escape from school.  Trips to the library continue all year around and pool time morphs into snow play (it's all water).  But, there are a few things I think we are anxious to wave goodbye to that come with summer. . . 

Bug bites.  There are times in the summer where my kids look like they have chicken pox due to the multiple bites they've incurred.  I can't help but wonder why it is we never feel these little pests until after their duty is done.  If we were bombarded by a herd of elephants- not a doubt we'd feel it.  If we were overrun by a pack of dogs, we'd run like a bunch of scared girls-screams included!  If we happened to run across an army of frogs, there would be more screaming than before- and that would be from just me.  A swarm of bees- I trust we would find our legs pumping to escape.  Why there is certain times when we can even feel 1 hair out of place on our heads.  So, I am absolutely baffled that 20 to 30 mosquitoes can search, swarm and suck on the fruits of our obviously good tasting blood and we don't feel a thing until after they are gone and we are left with more spots than a dot to dot book. 
Thank God for hydrocortisone!  Dousing this out has become my part time summer job.  The pay is terrible and the applications can be worse- bugs have a way of finding obscure body parts to bite!  The poor Baby Boy- he must have sweeeet blood.  He had so many bites this summer.  One in particular was in his underarm and due to his constant attention of scratching, it grew to the size of a small country- well at least to the size of a well defined bicep- too bad he couldn't show that off as a muscle- especially since he has just now come to acceptance of wearing muscle shirts.  Jane Austen Wanna be assured him daily that he had a tumor growing there.  He would just respond by more scratching. 
Happily, we wave goodbye to summer bug bites!

Bruises.  I know, this is seriously something that is a year round occurrence.  However, my kids are a bit more daring during the summer.  I'm sure it has something to do with the freedom in less layers of clothes, barefoot running and fried brain cells due to high summer temperatures.  This last summer,  The Cute one who Gets Everything Free at Garage Sales,  The Boy and The Baby Boy took it upon themselves to learn how to do front flips on the trampoline.  I keep looking at the warning sign on the side of the trampoline that shows a stick figure with a neck broke in half.  Scary!  I don't think I was ever more relieved when the older of the three had "brain block" all of the sudden and couldn't remember how to do it any longer.  I put on my best "Awwwww, too bad" face and then danced the   "Whooo-Hooo" dance behind their back!  And being the baby, The Baby Boy has decided to copy his older siblings and "forget" how to roll on the trampoline too. 

Other toys like bikes and skateboards are summer time fun and bring a barrage of scrapes and bang-ups with them.  We do like spending time outside playing with the multitude of yard toys, so it is inevitable that in just about 2 days my children have dawned the "knee socks" of brown and purple bruises.  The boys wear them proudly and love to capture any one's ear to relate all the stories that earned them their badges, which surprisingly always involves pirates and sharks, not to mention guns and sailing through the air.  Have to love the imagination! 

The Boy has just learned to ride his bike without training wheels- no easy feat for a 4 year old, but he was majorly determined and encouraged by the older sisters he took off.  I can't help but beam when my kids catch on to bike riding, it amazes me that the same child who can't walk across the room without knocking into chairs, couches or other siblings can manage balancing on 2 wheels and glide somewhat smoothly down the driveway.  And now the bruise stories can be a bit  more thrilling- for as everyone knows, escaping from a shark riding pirate is always more fun on a motorcycle than on foot!

Closing the curtains.  Sigh.  The sad part of summer ending is the curtains close a bit earlier each night.  With the daylight growing shorter, it feels as if we are somehow robbed of time and often we find ourselves wondering where the hours went and we scurry to get everything done.  The winter solstice and return of a bit longer light is celebrated like Christmas for us.  The moment we are sitting around the supper table and all of the sudden realize we can still clearly see outside is call for a hoopla. 

While I'll quote my mother in saying "God made the bugs for a purpose!"  I'm happily envisioning Heaven shy of bugs therefore free of bites!  Sadly, for boys, the bruises fade, so I'm assuming Heaven full of bruise stories that mirror the fish stories of "the one that got away" - lacking proof to impress.  And joyfully I'm banking on my Heavenly mansion with curtains always thrown wide open letting the glory of God shine on my supper table each and every night!

Contentedly surviving myself,
Mary


Friday, August 12, 2011

Loosening the Apron Strings

Can someone tell me the secret to slowing time?  I'm pretty sure summer just started, and yet here it is school time again.  I do remember some individual days here and there, but maybe they are all jumbled in with the "I'm bored, what can I do?" days and the "It's so hot-I'm melting!" months. 

Regardless of the reasons, I'm staring at the front end of September as it is peeking around the corner.  (Yes, I am one of the dying breed who waits until after Labor Day to start school.  Okay, well not totally- as the Jane Austen Wanna Be, Bookworm and Clown would testify since they started doing some of next year's schoolwork already.  But, I really got tired of them having too much time loafing around and couldn't get them to do more housework so I could loaf around!)  But, this summer I was wanting to put the brakes on, just a bit.  I'm surrendering the Jane Austen Wanna Be to college classes this year.  And, I truly am proud like a strutting rooster, but I'm also apprehensive like a mother hen.  (By the way, did you ever notice apprehensive has the word "hen" in it?  Of course it also has the word "app" in it, which will be what the Jane Austen Wanna Be will be wishing she would have - an app for "reassuring mom that I am doing okay.") 

I did have in mind building some neat memories for the family this summer since we are entering a new chapter in life.  Somehow between high gas prices and the oldest off to various babysitting jobs, I lost track of time.  I didn't even get in a good stay-cation! 

Wait, before I start throwing a pity party, I did get a lot of laughs in this summer and since you've hung in reading this far, I'm going to share my latest.  Don't stop reading now, it is a cute, little laugh.

As the Jane Austen Wanna Be, Bookworm and I were driving to the gym, we were listening to one of our favorite, okay only, NPR radio shows,  Car Talk.  This show, Click and Clack were listing the top 5 professions that have the most car wrecks.  Our minds were flying trying to see if we could guess the correct answers- and some of them we had correct.  The top profession that has car wrecks is students (Who said this is a profession?!?  I must have missed many years of paychecks when I was in school!)  The number 2 profession is medical doctors (Sure glad the operate better than they drive!)  Number 3 is lawyers (insert your own joke here_____________________).  Number 5 is real estate agents- makes sense- eyes on the houses, not the road. 

Yes, I know, I skipped number 4- here is where the joke on me comes in.  I mentioned in the last blog how the sense of hearing has been slipping- and hitting 45, I mean 40, is probably not going to help this.  Anyway, the 4th profession for having the most accidents is "Unknown."  Yet, deaf me hears "A Gnome."  As I swerve to avoid the ditch, due to my laughing and wondering "Gnomes?!? - of course they would have car accidents- can't see over the steering wheel!"  My kids, suddenly aware of the importance of seat belts,  inform me of the real category- which, by they way is not, N-O-T as funny as gnomes!

How does this tie into apron strings?  We'll I'm unloosing the Jane Austen Wanna Be to make the drive to the community college (60 miles round trip) all by herself.  You parents know- it's not the child you don't trust, it's everyone else's driving that concerns you!  No, really, she'll be fine; I've already made sure she knows the route and have sent her on various errands with guinea pig siblings to get the new driver impulses under her belt.  BUT, it is really about me coming to accept that my baby is growing up.  And I'm not sure how it slipped by me so quickly.  Was it the endless days of changing diapers to tying shoes to glasses, to braces, to schooling, schooling, schooling. . . ?  Sigh.
Why didn't someone tell me to just stop more often and forget about what I thought was so pressing and important to finish and just enjoyPause timeBreathe it all inHold it in my heart?

Believe me, experiencing these feelings with the oldest one will make me appreciate and enjoy the time I have with the other ones- of course they probably will get tired of Mom giving them a "goofy- I love you look" and they probably won't welcome the bricks I'm going to place on their heads to slow growth- Oh, who said I was going to accept all this easily?  But they will know that their mother is treasuring them and thanking God for the blessing He gave me in choosing me to be their mother. 

So, the knot in the apron is starting to slip a little.  And next week I'll put on my happy face while I send my baby off to school (One thing I LOVE about homeschooling- I was able to put off the separation of the first day of school from age 5 to age 16!!) and then I'll retreat back to the house, go down on my knees and pray that my heavenly Father will protect my child's body, heart, and soul~  
Oh, and that He will also keep all the gnomes off the road!!

Painfully Surviving Myself,
Mary

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Tech Post

GUEST POST ALERT: 

 Hi everyone! Jane Austen Wanna-be here. I wanted to share with you gals and guys about some of the technical stuff on the blog.
   I'm sitting here enjoying my starbursts (a little treat mom got me for fixing the computer. Did I mention she got me the BIG pack? I work for peanuts...OK, candy.) Hmmmm....what's Mom trying to do? She's just insuring the fact that I'll always have a reason to stick with her on the Supreme 90 exercise program.
   Between a broken computer router and the Bookworm's new Nook, I have been playing Geek Squad for the past few days...I'm such a social reject. No offense to readers who are members of the Geek Squad - I love you! I had to have you fix my laptop (that I broke) for free!! (did I mention this incident involved an 8 month old baby! That one wasn't my fault!)
   I am watching Mom's visitors on the stat counter go higher and higher - but we are still left with 1 follower...Thank you Mrs. Butcher!! So, here are the steps to become a follower:
1.  Under the section "followers" click the tab that says "Join This Site."
2.  Sign in with either Google, Yahoo, or Twitter. (or create an account with either of these 3)


Here are the steps to comment:
1. On the end of each post there is a section that says "0 comments."
2. Click that.
3. Type in your comment.
4. Select a account to post your comment as
5. Post your comment.

Here are the steps to subscribe to the blog through your e-mail so that you can get posts sent directly to your e-mail.
1. At the top of the blog there is a section that looks like a search engine.
2. Enter your e-mail.
3. Click the "subscribe" button.
Hope this was helpful! Comment if you like the blog!
Jane Austen Wanna-be.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Happy Birthday to Me!!

Okay, so 40 feels. . . well just like 39.  Which means I've been secretly living as a 40 something year old woman for a very long time!  I have noticed that my body is starting to feel mid age though- without any major trauma to my body (unless you count carrying 7 children)- I am starting to feel aches and pains that weren't there before.  I start most days as an 80 year old woman.  This means bent over with back pains.  I know, I know they make therapeutic mattresses for that, but I have children to feed at that cost.
It's okay though, my kids just think I'm bending down over them because I'm eager to see their sweet sleeping faces before they get out of bed - shh, don't let them know. 

I didn't play football in school- hard to believe, isn't it.  Yet, I have recently acquired a "football knee" injury.  Since I know it didn't come from football, I'll blame it on all the P90X/Supreme 90 (which, by the way, I'm still plugging through.  I haven't got on the scale lately~I really don't want to know that information; I'll hit it when it doesn't feel like a "fat day" ~ that would be for sure and certain on the 37th of any given month ; P )  I'm not going to complain about the knee too much -  after witnessing a dear friend get stepped on her knee by a horse, I'm feeling spry and youthful. 

I would sing the gray hair woes, but I've seriously joined the "cover it with color" about a year ago.  I am so proud of myself for holding out as long as I did!!  Although, did you know that the majority of women that color their hair do so for other purposes than covering gray?!  I should have guessed that, but I've been too busy looking at my own gray to notice others'.

Wrinkles- aren't Shar Pei dogs cute?  Here is the deal, and this is a good one, owners of shar peis have to physically lift each wrinkle and clean the skin folds.  At least I'm NOT that bad. . . yet. 

I have many saving graces- really I need to resolve to focus on these more often- but one of them is that The Clown is going through a phase where she sees old people as "So cute!"  Therefore I'm only improving in here eyes.  (Guess I know which one I'll call on to take care of me in the geriatric days!)  She is my little Mother Teresa/St. Anthony and I count on her for A LOT, so she'll be up for the task.

That reminds me~memory.  It's really is so fun sometimes to rediscover memories- even on a daily basis!  My lack of memory is totally solved by the fact that I have 7 kids to remind me of everything. 

Hearing- I've always had a bit of hearing loss.  This too is source of amusement for my kids.  No, they aren't trying to get away with more things, saying that they told me already, they just get a kick out of me repeating what I thought they said.  Some of these are a real doosey!  I am glad the Lord has blessed me with the ability to entertain my children- even if it is at my own expense!  (It's okay, really, I take time to get a laugh on them any chance I can too!)

That reminds me~memory.  It's really is so fun- wait a minute! 

Okay so, on my 40th birthday, I'm going to share a underused secret.  Never admit your age, always go about 5 years older than what you really are.  Then, everyone will say, "Wow, you good for a 45 year old.  I hope I look that good when I'm that old!!!" 

Don't think of it as lying- remember if I told them my age according to how old I felt- I'd be 80 today!

I can find peace in the fact that I am younger than so many others.  And if they are still doing well, then so am I!  And I can rest assured that to the one that really counts- God- I'm still a baby!

Have a great day- hope you enjoy the beautiful gift of life that God gave you! 
Surviving myself at 45,
Mary

P.S.  Big birthday wishes to all those friends who happen to have been born on the same day as I was - you  sure did pick a great day to be born!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Creatively Challenged

This is my fuming post - just a heads up to anyone reading, especially those of you readers that exude creativity from your very pores!   Don't get me wrong- I love creative people; I just hate when I feel the pressure to try (and for some reason I nearly always think I can do just about every project) and cry (the usual response that comes from theses exploits) to be just like you.  So the following is a list, although incomplete- because I'm sure there are more of you creative people just dying to tempt me into trying another project- of those that I hate to love.

My wonderful neighbor and friend.  Here is a woman, no- make that WOMAN!  Who sews, grows and bakes, all while wearing a smile!  She is so encouraging too- which is why I'm sending my kids over constantly so she can rub off on them!  Hey, if I can't be creative, I can at least see that my kids can be!  Last month I sent the Jane Austen Wanna Be down to her house learn how to make home-made bread from SCRATCH!  Okay- I'm talking like grind the wheat scratch.  Who does this??   Now, the great thing about this is that I now have a daughter that can make homemade bread that is heavenly- but the downside is that she now knows how untalented her mom is in the baking area- oops!  She is the mother of 3 great kids who share her friendly attitude and are a joy to have around- constantly sharing smiles, notes and little gifts (like beautiful flowers from their garden- which I'm completely dumbfounded at how she manages to bring forth from the same ground I can only sprout weeds from.)

My Mother- sorry mom!  Isn't there some law that states that the creativity gene parents have gets passed on to the offspring?  Wait a minute- if this were true, it could explain a lot of questions about myself and my family.  Regardless, I did NOT get any talents that my mother has (or my sisters for that fact!)  Not one.  She can cook, sew, draw, paint, sing, play piano and guitar and she has a wonderful optimistic attitude too.  (Guess where my kids are going this weekend!)  Actually, the talent gene did get passed on. . . to my children (the girls at least-verdict is out on the boys and I don't believe my mother has a talent for smashing things and being wild).  I am amazed at the extent my children have taken to music.  No, they are not bound for Julliard, but they are not only musically inclined, but also confident enough to share their talent with others- as they do regularly at Mass. 

And the cooking gene is alive and growing too.  Some lucky men- or blessed convents- will get a top notch chef from my girls.  I won't let the boys escape this one either- they'll have to face and master the kitchen before leaving the nest.

Lastly-I know, this is a very short list-call it the highlights, just the special people that are constantly in my face with their wonderfulness,  Charlotte (aka Waltzing Matilda).  This one is that is some what unfair- I don't know her.  But, you can click on her blog here: http://tiredtwang.blogspot.com/  (or copy and paste) and witness how beautifully creative she is and in my wildest dreams I couldn't even come close to her wonderfulness.  That doesn't mean I didn't try though!

We have a tradition at our house that we decorate the kitchen for each person's birthday.  Streamers, balloons, and usually a homemade poster indicating the birthday child's name and new age.  Easy
cheesy, but fun.  So, the Jane Austen Wanna Be surfs on Charlotte's blog and sees her birthday decorating links and suddenly the pressure is on!  I didn't do to bad (see pics.)  But I did exhaust at least 6 months worth of creativity!  Fortunately this was a two for one- two birthdays on one day (the Jane Austen Wanna Be and the Clown share their birthday- July 7th)  so I get double credit! 

You know, I can always pawn the decorating job off to the older kids for the next birthday.  Oh wait, I already do that : )

I can't go until I mention that the whole creativity gene has extended to my kids in the acting area too.  Three times a year they put on a production with friends in what they call "Fun Size Cinema."  They always do a great job with what little props and sometimes rehearsal time they have.  This last play was a rendition of  "Annie."  And despite a well worn wig (Who said Annie HAS to have curls?) and performance temperatures running above 100 degrees- they did an awesome job!  Oh, and of course it was a musical- with The Jane Austen Wanna Be playing the keyboard.

It is a hard knock life!  But at least I can rest knowing that creativity doesn't get me into Heaven (Thank you God!)  And hey, I can always look at my lack of creativity as a leg up for my kids- they'll always be able to brag that they can do something or two things- oh forget it tons of things that their mother can't do!
Working to survive myself,
Mary

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Field Day or Life Training?

   Field day? A chance to gather with friends and family and showcase one's hidden talents of running across a field on three legs, pulling on ropes, and pressing balloons to the popping point between body parts? Or...is field day really life training in disguise for children who will one day hope to succeed as a function adult (especially for those called to motherhood.). 
   Last week, our wonderful home school group had their yearly field day.  It is an event that each of us look forward to.  This year, as I watched the events, I was struck by the ironic similarities between the showcased games and life skills.  Let's look at some of the games that were played.
   First up was soccer.  Although I didn't get a chance to witness the older kids (about 10 and up), I did get a chance to enjoy the younger kids play, in what we will term "herd ball." Now, for you who have young children in soccer, you know what I am talking about.  This is not a game of skill.  It's actually played on two levels.  The first level is a group of little kids hovering around a ball as they travel up and down the field in a tight knit circle wearing each other out (which is good, don't get me wrong.).  The second level is the coaches, a.k.a., the dads in the case of field day, playing sheep-dogs as they try to keep the herd on the field (this too wears out the dads, which is also OK.).  Now, mothers, this I realized is a wonderful opportunity for the fathers to see what is like to be a mother and take two toddlers to the grocery store, trying to exercise crowd control and avoid the coveted goals of candy placed strategically by the store stalkers at kid's eye level.
   The next game I witnessed was fire man's relay.  This was to be a relay of passing a water filled cup from one end of the line to the other in attempts to fill an empty milk jug. The one twist was the cup was already filled - with holes.  What a wonderful life skilled game.  Have you ever been to Sonic with seven kids, which generally the three youngest will attempt the cup strength against the red straw. This typically results in leaking slushy.  It truly is fire-man's relay to get the cup moved from the back of the car, to the front, and out of the car before it spills all over the inside of the vechile! 
   It seems the key phrase in exercising right now is "functional exercise."  These are exercises that you are to do that mimics day in and out movements.  I have never seen a more functional game then no-finger fishing.  This one hits home as before I sat down to type, I was cleaning my kitchen floor. And, instead of bending down and picking up the toys as I held the mop and cleaner, I used my toes to tidy up the toys. (I so would have won that game. You wouldn't believe the things my toes can pick up - very functional.) 
   Next was the three legged race. This was very similar to soccer, except, in real life, your not tied to some.  Rather, a toddler is strapped to your leg. 
   Limbo.  I have great admiration for someone who can maintain a center of balance while moving under a bar just inches above their nose.  However, there are days when I feel that I too am bent over backwards, trying to maintain balance as the toddler hangs on (see previous paragraph) and the preschooler pulls me from the front.  Don't forget that you have to add in all the distractions of the screaming of those who are attempting to gain your attention - now that's balancing act. 
   Tug of war...I probably don't have to say anything at all.  Just envision a mother, a toddler/preschooler, and any coveted object. I could elaborate on this by saying a mental tug of war with older children is just as exhausting.
   Balloon relays.  What mother doesn't have to, at one point or another, have an armful of fill in the blank (groceries, laundry, etc.) and the the other arm preciously balancing on their hip.  I'm not sure which one is more breakable, the balloon or the child.  They both bounce about the same and equally loud. 
   Running with the bulls - I had never heard of this one, but I play it near daily.  This one the dads played.  They were supposed to be blindfolded, while a rush of kids hurled towards them on two legs in attempts, not to knock them down (although that would have been hilarious) but to escape past them.  Really, this is a challenge? How many nights have I manned a darkened hallway, avoiding strategically placed toys in attempts to chase down a half-awake child whose bladder is full and has forgotten where the bathroom is (like I moved it.)
   The more I thought about functional games, I realized that there were important ones missing from our field day line-up.  Have you ever seen the games were your child inserts shapes into a ball/box?  I know this is supposed to teach them their shapes and work on their eye/hand coordination.  That's great, but I believe this should be a field day game because what it's really teaching is how to organize a Tupperware drawer.  Trying to fit all those Tupperware pieces inside one another and managing to close the door is quite a challenge.  Finding the correct lid for each piece is near impossible!
   How about this one? Any game that involves your finger and spit?  The rules would be simple.  It would involve chasing a dirty faced toddler and the winner would be the one who could clean the face without the resources of a washrag or water.  Now that's a functional exercise!
   All in all, our field day was a success and while we claim not to be socialists, we were all winners.  I will look forward to next year's events eagerly.  Maybe I'll even be considered as a game advisor...
Barely surviving myself,
 Mary

Thursday, June 16, 2011

X Factor

  So as I am getting closer to my 40th birthday, 45 days and counting, I decided to step out and change up my exercise routine. Always jumping on the latest bandwagon (if all your friends jump off a cliff....) I've decided EXTREME - as in P90X.  Beings that I am to cheap to actually purchase it, I was excited to find out that my local library carried it and I could check it out. 
   But, since you can only check it out for 3 weeks, I had two of my daughters check it out as well in succession after me, thinking "Hey, 60 days is good!" Never in my wildest dreams that all three requests would be filled within days of each other. There goes the library, always coming through to ruin my plans.
   Declining to holds on the DVD's, the Jane Austen Wanna-be and I commited ourselves as we carried the big plastic package under our arm, out the library, ready to go. 
   For those of you who might be interested in this program, all I can say is make sure you have a committed partner and it really helps to have another participant who sits on the couch and makes fun of the video participants, onscreen and off.  Exercising is so much more enjoyable when your out of breathe because your laughing.
   I function well with routine.  That being said, after 2 weeks of P90X, the Xtreme workout, I was looking for a change in routine.  While at the same time, glad I didn't purchase it, because then I really wouldn't have any change.  Have you seen how much this thing costs? $120!
  
I was absolutly thrilled when Jane Austen Wanna-be found a similar workout that got 5 star reviews - Supreme90Day.  Beings that it would only be 20% of the cost, I thought, "Why not give it a try?" This is just the change I was looking for in my life!  I am now in day 4 of Supreme90Day and all I can say is: SUPREME ROCKS EXTREME!Isn't that true for everything?.....
-Supreme pizza
- The Supremes
- Supreme Court - highest in the land
   Wait a minute...maybe I'm getting ahead of myself. I do have to give credit to P90X, after all, I actually lost 4 found in my three weeks of Xtreme-ing.
  But, putting in an hour a day was so monotonous, so tiring, so not what I wanted to do. SUPREME90DAY appears to be averaging about a 30 minute workout. This I can do. The only downfall is that I only get a 1/2 hour of laugh time from the clown on the couch. Guess she'll get a workout trying to get 60 minutes of laugh time packed into a 30 minute workout. This workout may be more challening for her than me!  No, we are talking about the clown...she can do it.
   Back to extreme things.  Extreme couponing. What can I say? These people sure do not spend their time doing Extreme workouts.  This concept is a full time job. Have I tried it? No. Not with 7 kids. Probably not with 5 kids. Heck, not even with 2 kids. With one kid? Only if the one kid does it for me.  I have realesed the Jane Austen Wanna-be with limited resources and restrictions to go for extreme couponing.  It seems that she has this inate desire to see how much money she can save.  Sadly, I'm not getting thousands dollars of groceries for $5....yet.  But, she has managed to save $40 and her goal each month is top the last savings amount.  Before you have visions of her dumpster diving for coupons, attending coupon parties, or knocking at the door of the local newspaper offices, begging for their extra prints, (although if she has some extra time, I might consider letting her - nix that, extra time needs to be spent cleaning her room) she only coupons off my grocery list.  I really don't need 8 bottles of mustard.  I don't care if they are only $0.02 a piece.  Hey, aside from the $40 she has saved, I have the benefit of being able to identify were the wonderful deals were - yes, were. For all those of you who have seen empty sale shelves, you can bet that a couponer has beat you to it. 
  For those of you who follow it, Jane Austen Wanna-Be that today is the last episode of TLC's Exteme Couponing.  I haven't seen it  (we don't have cable).  Will the world survive? Or have we been inspired enough to go for the perfect deal (ie. $0.27 salad dressing) in order to fill every space, crack, and crevice with our stockpile of finds.  By the way, if the world ends tomorrow, don't come searching my pantry. I only have enough salad dressing for about 5 salads. 
   So, let's not end this post totally bashing Extreme things. Wouldn't my world be wonderful if I had children who were extreme house cleaners? Or, for that matter, or even my husband as an extreme cleaner? This would be a good extreme! Maybe extreme students - those that win Nobel Peace Prizes before they graduate from highschool.  You know, I believe I would just enjoy extremely nice attitudes for more than two minutes straight  - which, by the way only happens if there is candy promised after a two minute period of niceness.  (sigh.)
   It's a good thing the Lord is extremely in love with me.  He is the one EXTREME who is SUPREME.    
Surviving myself, Mary. (how do you like my new sign off - I have to credit a college friend for this one.)

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Hello? Is anybody there?

   OK, so this is my daughter's idea because I needed an outlet to vent some of my frustrations and she figured, as a mother to seven, I was so much of an oddity...er, I mean sideshow...uh, I mean, never mind.  She just thought it would be better for me to type it than yelling frustrations at her.  BTW - as a teenager (16 in July) she has become my closest confidant - so to all of you who nervously await the teen years....don't.
  
One of the best pieces of advice I was given as I started my family was to not fear the teen years as the world seems to encourage.  Teens (at least mine, and I now have 2 of them) can be frustrating but the benefits outweigh the grief exceedingly. 
   I am a stay at home mother who home schools her kids (yes, all seven of them), pre-pre-school to junior in high school.  I am always dumbfounded when people ask me: "How do you do it?!" Really? It is a lifestyle and I don't know what I'd do without it.  I love my kids and I love teaching them.  And, while it has it's challenges, I would never exchange it for even a six figure out-of-the-house job. 
   In this blog you can expect to find random rantings and rambling (say that 10 times fast) of a 39 (almost 40) mother - and, as promised, an occasional post from her blog wannabe daughter - of course, with my permission and approval.  Sorry, while we might be a side-show, we don't equal up to the Duggars - seven is no where close to...wait, I lost count.  I almost equal Kate in number, but I'm much nicer, at least I like to think - sorry Kate fans!
   It will be rated E for everyone, I want something that my children would be proud that their mother writes...and something that wouldn't make my own mother blush while reading.  If I am feeling adventurous, I will share antidotes, tips, and links.
   If you enjoy it, feel free to comment. If you don't like it, well, OK, I'm strong and I can take criticism too.  Maybe. Just don't make me cry.
   That's it for now! Keep scrolling down! I save the treats and the bottom of the page.
*funny sign off to end the blog every time, if I had one - ideas are welcome!